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Backyard Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

9 Common Australian pests you can expect to find in your garden

Having a beautiful healthy garden is the dream of many homeowners and free spirits around the world. Seeing your hard work gobbled up or dying because of bugs and other pests can be heartbreaking and frustrating. Thankfully though there are lots of ways to tackle the common backyard pest through simple organic solutions and in extreme cases, chemical methods, so the team here at Exceptional Buildings Inspections, has compiled this file for your information.

Newcastle’s most common garden pests

Click on each pest listed below to find out more:

  • Aphids
  • African Black Beetles
  • Ants
  • Australian Plague Locusts and Grasshoppers
  • Cabbage Moths and White Butterflies
  • Citrus Leaf Miners
  • Fruit Flies
  • Mealybugs
  • Slugs and snails.
Aphids

Aphids

With over 4,000 species of aphids varying in colours it’s a little disappointing that the two most common in Australia are the cabbage and cotton aphids. Can you imagine exploring your garden and finding white, black, green, yellow, brown, or even Pink aphids on your roses?
Thankfully aphids are easy enough to control, just squish them with your fingers or remove the affected parts of the plant. If that doesn’t work, you can always wash the plants with cold water or spray them with soapy water (a simple dish soap mixture works wonders). Alternatively, attract some beneficial insects such as lady beetles which just LOVE snacking on aphids.

African Black Beetles

African Black Beetles

These cute little guys are an introduced pest from South Africa and occur mainly in Western Australia and the wet south-eastern coastal regions all the way up to South East Queensland. Their larva grows up to 25mm long and are a creamy-white with light brown heads, when they mature, they’re shiny black and 12 to 14mm long.

The beetle and grubs feed on the roots and underground stems of young plants, commonly causing suckers to emerge, red or yellow vine foliage, wilted potato stems, and dead lawn patches. While they are difficult to get rid of in a non-toxic way, building physical barriers buried to about 5cm, planting in raised angled beds, and having domestic birds like chickens and ducks are good ideas to try before resorting to chemicals.

Ants

Ants

While these are an amazing insect, they can do a lot of damage to your home and garden depending on the species. With over 1,200 known species in Australia, you should do some research before declaring war on them to make sure you don’t destroy beneficial ant colonies. It’s best to use lavender oil near the bases of your doors, windows, and other entry points to keep them from coming into your home.

Australian Plague Locusts and Grasshoppers

Australian Plague Locusts and Grasshoppers

These critters can very quickly destroy your garden if they are not managed immediately; you can handpick them in the early mornings, attract birds to eat them, erect physical barriers to protect your plants, or plant insectary plants to attract bugs that prey on grasshoppers.

If the natural methods don’t work you may have to resort to other options.

Cabbage Moths and White Butterflies

Cabbage Moths and White Butterflies

If you’ve ever grown broccoli, cabbage, or any other plants in the Brassicaceae family you have probably come across these guys gorging themselves on your produce. Look for large holes in the leaves, dark green bug poop, and discolouration of the heads of your cauliflower and broccoli which is caused by the bug’s excrement.

Like many other pests, attracting natural predators is a great option, such as ladybirds, assassin bugs, lacewings, paper wasps, and insect-eating birds. If you have chickens, the caterpillars make excellent snacks, or you can squash them.

Since the white cabbage butterfly and moth are territorial insects, creating fake white butterflies to decorate your garden with will keep them from laying their eggs on your veggies. Alternatively, consider planting some dill, basil, fennel, coriander, or sage to confuse the bugs.

Citrus Leaf Miners

Citrus Leaf Miners

These unwanted guests are the bane of every citrus tree. If you start to notice squiggly silvery trails on the surface of new leaves (also found on old leaves) and distorted curly leaves, your tree is infected, and you should remove the affected leaves immediately.

DO NOT compost them, but instead seal them in a plastic bag and leave in the sun to bake. To protect future new growth, spray with white oil to prevent laying of more eggs and again, attract some natural enemies.

Fruit Flies

Fruit Flies

Growing your own fruit and veg can be a very rewarding thing, losing your crop to maggots can be downright devastating. If you see adult fruit flies around your crops, notice any puncture wounds, or maggots in the produce you should collect all the infested fruits and either place them in a bag to cook in the sun or boil them before feeding to your poultry.

If you have chickens, letting them go on adventures through your orchards or vegetable patches is a great way to control the population as they will happily eat all the pupae in the soil. You can also set up pheromone traps to lure and trap the males before they mate, meaning the females won’t sting your produce to lay eggs.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs

Small soft-bodied and covered with a white waxy coating, mealybugs are common backyard pests that do not discriminate against which plants they feed on. You commonly find them on the underside of leaves and stems of ornamental, citrus, ferns, orchids, greenhouse plants and trees hanging out in clusters.

They excrete honeydew to encourage sooty mould growth, this also attracts ants so if you see a trail of them going up and down your plants have a closer look to see where they are going.
Spraying the infested area with soapy water will suffocate the mealybugs, attracting natural predators, and pruning the affected plants are good ways to deal with the infestations. Since ants essentially farm the mealybugs and protect them from predators, growing ant repellent plants is also a good idea for your garden.

Slugs and snails

Slugs and snails

One of the most common introduced pests in Australia are the garden snails and slugs damaging everything from seedlings and leaves to fruit and underground tubers. They can easily destroy everything in your garden and leave you with just a slimy trail where your seedlings used to be.
Cleaning out moist dark areas, such as under rocks or logs, is a great start to controlling the population of these pests.

You can handpick them before dropping them into a bucket of soapy water, spray a coffee mix (one-part fresh espresso to five parts water) on the problem areas to kill the snails and slugs, or have a beer party with the snails where they can happily drown.

Copper tape and crushed eggshells, wood ash, sawdust, lime, and wood shavings around your plants are great ways to repel the pests longer term.

Pests be gone!

While the above is a small collection of pests found commonly in the Australian backyards, keeping an eye out for them and others can feel like a fulltime job at times. While most of these won’t cause damage to your house, they can potentially lead to problems further down the road. The team at Exceptional Building Inspections can help determine if any damage has been done and steer you in the right direction to protecting your home and garden. Contact Exceptional Building Inspections today on 02 4950 4197 or 0412 188 199 to discuss your backyard pests today.